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Title Comment Comment Date Comment Link
Greatest Films of All Time

I give your comment a 2.3. It would have gotten a 2.7 if you didn't use the word asinine.

12/11/2009 View
Darktremor's bone to pick with "Scaruffi-ism"

You're really missing my point, which is not at all reductionist (it's barely even formalist, formalism is only a small part of analysis). And in no way am I trying to "quantize" anything. My goal with that example was to point out how our relationship with music is not "magical" as you put it, but quite approachable. While you may be comfortable explaining why the hair on your neck stands when you listen to music with "voodoo", I'm not. Let's leave that thought process in the Dark Ages where it belongs.

Your picture of the man sitting in a concert hall getting off on the structure of a piece is way off base. I'm not saying that analysis should REPLACE experience, but rather that the two are both natural digestions of art. Whenever we consume art, it is always a visceral AND an intellectual experience, whether you like it or not.

12/11/2009 View
Darktremor's bone to pick with "Scaruffi-ism"

So let me summarize. We love music for irrational, metaphysical, inexplicable reasons (well, not reasons, because the relationships is wholly unreasonable).

Let me ask you a question. Have you ever heard a song that you thought was dark, dim, or foreboding? Do you think those feelings that it gave you exist for no reason at all? Because our relationship with music exists in some alternate dimension where we can't access any level of understanding?

Or is it because maybe the song is in a minor key, or it has a brooding pace, or dissonant harmonics? There are reasons for everything - let's not pretend music transcends this fact just so we don't have to work to understand it.

12/10/2009 View
Greatest Films of All Time

Interesting analysis of the Velvet Underground and Nico album. I bet Lou Reed and John Cale were upset when Andy Warhol convinced them to allow Nico on to the album. I bet Cale said to Reed, "Uh oh. Nico's voice will surely drop the album down from a 9.3 to a 9.2." Because that's what's most important about the record. Clearly.

12/10/2009 View
Darktremor's bone to pick with "Scaruffi-ism"

I agree that it's fine if someone isn't curious enough to attempt to discover 'why' music makes them feel the way they do, but you still can't argue the point that music transcendent and only creates feeling in us due to some magical quality. Which is what I'm responding to.

So, fine if you plead ignorance, just don't pretend like that's the answer.

12/10/2009 View
Darktremor's bone to pick with "Scaruffi-ism"

I've listened to Verdi's Requiem plenty of times. Just because you experience emotion while listening to music doesn't mean it comes out of some alternate dimension. The fact that people experience music similarly would suggest that there's something formally present within the music that causes this intersubjective relationship.

Feeling doesn't come from "god knows where", it comes from our relationship to these works of art, which we can speak about in objective terms.

12/10/2009 View
Darktremor's bone to pick with "Scaruffi-ism"

Fine. If that's your position than you have no right to ever be involved in a debate concerning music. If no one attempts to understand what it is about the music they like that attracts them towards it, then you can never criticize anyone's taste... ever...

All that matters is how much you like something? Well, how strongly a certain band or song pulls you towards it is always based on factors. "It's just a feeling that comes from god knows where"? That's bullshit. I'm sorry, but anyone who accepts a position of ignorance, while knowing that they are in a position of ignorance, is a fool.

Next time you say "Nickelback sucks", you're breaking your own little rule you've just made up here.

12/8/2009 View
Greatest Films of All Time

I understand reviewers use rating systems as guides to whether they favor or dislike a text, but these ratings are never the content of the critiques themselves. You could easily substitute a four-star rating system with "i recommend it" or "not a huge fan". Your rating system actually makes claims about the quality of a piece of work. When you give an album a 9.5, you believe that actually means something (which of course it doesn't, it's just an arbitrary signifier). It's like if I said, "I give the Stooges' debut a gallon of orange juice, but Fun House only gets seven jars of jam."

It doesn't mean anything.

12/3/2009 View
Greatest Films of All Time

I just scrolled through the comments and saw way too much "well, the film was more like an 8.8 than an 8.9" and thought, "what the hell does that even mean?".

so i posted.

12/3/2009 View
Greatest Films of All Time

My primary purpose was not to make you feel wrong. I dig the albums that you dig. We can co-dig these albums (and films for that matter, well for the most part).

My purpose was to try to get you to rethink such a systematic way of looking at art, that's all.

12/3/2009 View
Greatest Films of All Time

But in high school English class, we were also taught that we had to provide a foundation for our arguments. In such an essay, we couldn't just say "Huck Finn is Mark Twain's masterpiece" without saying why, could we? (Also, does it matter which album is Velvet Underground's masterpiece? Who cares? Since when are normative appraisals more valuable then actually talking about how the records are different, the same, conflicting, etc.?)

My problem lies in the disconnect here: Okay, so Sister Ray sounds like a "living, breathing snake", interesting analysis. Now how do you jump from such a subjective description of an emotional relationship to "I give it an 8.4"? On the one hand you have Scaruffi/AfterHours as these hyperbolic figures describing artistic relationships in literary terms and on the other you have Scaruffi/AfterHours as these scientists who have developed the ultimate formula for categorizing art.

How do you rank a tear against a scream? Or a laugh against a sob?

I fantasize about getting Scaruffi to admit his numerical ratings are bogus.

12/3/2009 View
Darktremor's bone to pick with "Scaruffi-ism"

Right, well there's that famous Laurie Anderson quote, "Writing about music is like dancing about architecture." (But according to these guys, architecture and dance are essentially the same thing -> http://humanitieslab.stanford.edu/49/75).

The problem with Scaruffi is that his methods of ranking music are objective. He gives them numerical rankings. An album that gets a 9.0 is BETTER than an album that gets an 8.5. But he completely fails to say why (which is significantly more important than the fact itself). I don't care that Robert Wyatt's Rock Bottom is 0.4 points better than Faust's debut. I care why it is better and how he came to that conclusion. In this realm, his opinions are bankrupt.

I agree that he has interesting tastes.

12/2/2009 View
Darktremor's bone to pick with "Scaruffi-ism"

Scaruffi is by no means a great critic. There is one criterion you need to fulfill to be considered a critic and that is an ability to critique the work at hand. Scaruffi certainly makes strong claims about works, yet he rarely, if ever, provides substance to back up these claims. Instead of critiquing texts, Scaruffi dwells on vacant buzz words like "metaphysical" and "transcendent". Of course, these are not actual criticisms, but placeholders for, "there's just sumthin' about it!".

Let's look at his review of Trout Mask Replica:

"The most notable difference from the earlier albums is the duration of the cuts, for the most part very short. Another superficial difference is in the instrumentation, augmented by horns. The work is so innovative and complex as to be nearly indecipherable."

So he begins by making observations - fine, that's the place to begin. But then he immediately jumps to making claims about the record's complexity and innovation. Innovation pertains to the contextual reception and absorption into the creative cultural lexicon. It really has nothing to do with the indecipherability of a text. And complexity. Well that could mean anything. Complex works can fit perfectly within a "decipherable" aesthetic framework and simple works can be incredible indecipherable (simple tape manipulation, for instance).

Of course he then continues to name drop endlessly. Which would be alright if he would say WHY the album is similar to the works of John Cage instead of just saying so.

Scaruffi is a fool's reviewer. The epitome of pretension.

12/1/2009 View
Greatest Films of All Time

Yikes. What a stunting way to look at art - assigning arbitrary numerical rankings to objectify what is inherently subjective (a relationship). You ignore the fact that we experience different films in different ways and even the same film differently.

Your list is constantly changing yet you hold ground on certain works with such conviction.

I don't understand your need to substantiate your opinion with numbers. To me it just seems like a mechanism used to avoid actually discussing works. Scaruffi may have interesting tastes, but he certainly doesn't have interesting opinions, simultaneously using abstract language and concrete, systematic rankings. It makes no sense. Look at his review of VU's White Light/White Heat. He says the album is less impressive than VU and Nico, yet it contains the ultimate masterpiece of rock music, Sister Ray, which rivals Beethoven and Coltrane. What does that even mean!? In what way does it rival Beethoven? How are the two even remotely related? Scaruffi makes incredible claims and feels, "just because" is enough evidence to back it up.

And don't get me started on his opinions on film. He really needs to retitle his lists from "Greatest of All Time" to "My Personal Favorites". Splendor in the Grass? The 8th greatest film of all time?

12/1/2009 View